Just published: Thansis Valtinos - The Last Varlamis

The Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies is pleased to announce the latest publication in our series of Modern Greek Translations.

In 2016 we celebrate twenty years of the Modern Greek Translation series, under the direction of General Editor Professor Dimitris Tziovas.

Our latest title is The Last Varlamis, by Thanasis Valtinos, and translated by Stathis Gauntlett. The book will be launched at a special event to celebrate twenty years of our Modern Greek Translations, hosted by the Society for Modern Greek Studies on Friday 13 May 2016 at 6.30pm at the Hellenic Centre, 16-18 Paddington Street, London W1U 5AS.

Thanasis Valtinos, The Last Varlamis

Trans. Stathis Gauntlett, 2016.
ISBN: 978-0-7044-2860-7

The name 'Varlamis' summons forth a shadowy figure from the margins of modern Greek history — the curiously recumbent protagonist of a brigand ballad of dubious authenticity. Thanasis Valtinos is clearly in his artistic element using such raw ingredients. His construction of a trajectory for the fabled bloodline from the first to the eponymous last Varlamis is a bravura performance of his trademark 'faction', an unsettling hybrid of fiction and what passes for historical fact. The Last Varlamis is an entertaining and richly nuanced tale of opportunism, lust, brutality and artistic creativity spun upon the frame of selected scenes of modern Greek history. While the narrative affects the sobriety of scholarly discourse, it violates the basic tenets of historiography with varying degrees of subtlety, as if to strike a blow for the recognition of historical memory as a function of the creative imagination.

About the author:

A Peloponnesian highlander by birth, Thanasis Valtinos was at primary school when the Nazi invasion of 1941 threw Greek provincial life into disarray, soon compounded by protracted civil war.  He migrated to Athens in 1950 and studied cinematography.  The brutality surrounding his formative years haunted the fiction he began to publish sporadically from the late 1950s onwards.  In April 1969 Valtinos was one of the eighteen authors who publicly denounced the military junta's censorship, but he was later to disappoint those expecting to coopt him into the vindication of the vanquished (and relentlessly persecuted) side of the civil war.  His literary output gathered pace in the 1970s, interspersed with translations of ancient drama and well received screenplays.  The pioneering use of ostensibly prefabricated text and documents in his novels had an enduring impact on contemporary Greek fiction and his influence is reflected in the emergence of a so-called 'Valtinos school' of younger writers in Greece and Cyprus.  His novel Orthokosta (1994) embroiled Valtinos in a bitter and protracted controversy with the Greek Left, but did not stymie the awarding of a plethora of literary prizes to his work, nor his several terms of presidency of the Society of Greek Authors and his election to the Chair of Prosewriting at the Academy of Athens.  The Last Varlamis formed his inaugural address to the Academy in April 2010.